Spotlight On: Melody Wilding, Therapist for Female Entrepreneurs

Today I had the opportunity to chat with Melody Wilding, a therapist for female entrepreneurs. She had some AMAZING insights, which you can read about here. She talks about dealing with negativity as well as realllllly rad tips for a healthy lifestyle (I’ve already incorporated a few).

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photo courtesy of Melody Wilding

ALSO, if you’re in the NJ/NYC area, she’s also got a really useful and needed workshop coming up on March 27 in Hoboken, NJ. It’s called “Close Sales, Land Deals, & Get What You Want: Fearless Negotiation for Women in Startups.” She’s going to work through one of the toughest challenges young women in the startup world face: negotiation. So, if you’re a female entrepreneur, you might wanna check it!  Here’s a link to sign up: http://bit.ly/1eP0xhU

  1. Briefly describe your past life and what your journey was like to get from “there” to “here”.

I hail from a family of entrepreneurs so from a very young age I knew that a standard desk job was not for me. Growing up, my family’s ability to grow businesses and create their own living had a profound impact on me – and it still does today!

When I graduated college, the country was facing its worst economy since the Great Depression. Though the job market was in the trash, I saw it as an opportunity to continue my education and follow my lifelong dream of becoming a therapist. After I graduated with my Masters degree, I fell in love with the world of digital health. Not only does it combine some of my biggest interests – health, technology, the Internet, and community building – but also I was instantly attracted to the idea of turning the traditional model of therapy on its head by using the web. And with that, the entrepreneurial streak in me was unleashed. Over the past few years I have built a digital, 100% online practice counseling and coaching young professionals and entrepreneurs.

Coming to a place of acceptance has been a journey for me. When you’re pursuing an unbeaten path, you’ll bump up against criticism, which can hurt especially if it comes from people close to you. We all want a clean-cut identity, a perfectly wrapped-up-in-a-bow response to the question “So what do you do?”, yet when you’re an entrepreneur the answer to that question isn’t so easy. It takes hard work to fight past flashes of self-doubt. Surrounding yourself with people who admire and support your ambition is SO important.

2.     What is an instance- career or personal- that you would handle differently today?

There was a time when I was so ingrained in building my business that I neglected important personal relationships in my life. I had blinders on, and while it’s important to have focus, you cannot possibly perform to your maximum ability if you are not nourishing the emotional and spiritual sides of yourself. Never put off once-in-a-lifetime moments with people you care about for work that can be done tomorrow.

3.     Tell us about a person who has had a profound impact on your life and what that impact has been. (you can use specific names, but do not have to).

My parents are my heroes and role models. Their courage and strength is remarkable to me. As the owners of multiple businesses, they’ve looked fear in the face hundreds of times and they never let it get the best of them.

 4.     What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching from it or are told that ‘it’s going to be difficult.”?

When others express negativity, your first response may be to become defensive (they’re being a Debbie Downer about your awesome idea after all!). But getting defensive will get you nowhere. Plus, most of the time negativity is a result of another person’s insecurity.

Instead of getting upset, come from a place of curiosity and ask that person why they have those feelings towards your goal. You’ll often discover it’s because they abandoned a dream of their own.

 5.     What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

One piece of advice sticks out to me right now. My godmother gave me a necklace as a graduation present that has a daisy charm with a pearl at the center. She explained that I was the pearl in the middle and each petal represented something important in my life that contributed to who I am – family, friends, passions, etc. I wear it nearly every day. It’s a reminder that we’re constantly influencing people, places, and things around us. Don’t underestimate how one seemingly small kind deed or act can completely make a person’s day.

 6.     What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?

Don’t rely on your willpower to create change. Health is a habit, and to get there you have to schedule it like you would professional matters. Some of the most valuable personal changes I have made involved putting systems in place to support my physical and mental health. Willpower is finicky and finite (for more on this read this great book: The Power of Full Engagement). For example, group workout classes go on my calendar. I keep of list of friends I need to set coffee dates with in an Evernote file. It helps keep me organized and moving forward — just like a to-do list.

Another thing: If you want a healthy life, start believing in your ability to grow and change. If you have ever uttered the words “I’m not the type of person who is a good at [insert skill: working out, finances, networking…]. Stop…now. You’re only limiting yourself. If you don’t think you’re the “gym type”, then what’s stopping you from fitting exercise in by walking a longer route to the office or doing yard work over the weekend instead of lifting weights? Get creative.

Melody Wilding, LMSW, is a therapist for female entrepreneurs and young professional women. Melody has helped women running some of today’s top startups along with published authors and media personalities using secure and confidential online therapy sessions & counseling. Her advice has been featured in The Huffington, Post, Glamour, and Business Insider.

You can find her here:

http://www.melodywilding.com/

https://twitter.com/melodywilding

http://www.pinterest.com/melodywilding/

 

Prioritizing Something for the First Time- A Beginner’s Guide

The notion of prioritizing something I have never before made a priority has interested me lately. A few things popped out: 1) we don’t acknowledge this very real occurrence and 2) it’s not as easy as it looks to just start prioritizing something that has traditionally fallen by the wayside.

Basically, there are 8 main areas of life: career/profession, personal finance, health/aging, intimate and social relationships, fun & enjoyment, spiritual awareness, personal development and family. There are exercises you can do to understand and raise awareness of your satisfaction levels with each area. In looking at my areas over time, I noticed that I’m consistently satisfied or on-the-way-to-being-satisfied in all but one area: relationships.

The question that hit me like a ton of bricks lately was this: I had actively made all  those other areas of my life a priority at various points in time, and more or less, it was workin’ for me. Why didn’t I think I would have to make this one a priority, too? 

In other words, a great career didn’t just fall into my lap- I had to work at it. Health & Wellness is something I work at every single day! Did I really think my life partner would lock eyes with me in the NYC subway and that would be it?

So, I decided to take action. What can you do for those areas of your life you have never before made a priority? I’m glad you asked:

1. Determine Why It’s Important To You: What in your life would be different for you if you were able to improve or optimize this part of your world? Why is that important to you? What does that say about your values? These are just a few of the literally dozens of questions you can ask to really get to the bottom of why it matters.

2. Ensure It’s Not Important To Someone Who Is Not You: This is a big one, peeps! If any of the answers to the above questions come from a “I Have to Prioritize This” place, then it’s highly likely that wanting to prioritize whatever-it-is is coming from a place of fear and scarcity. For awhile, I wondered if I was trying to prioritize pursuing  a long-term relationship because others around me were talking about it and quote: That’s just what people do, or some other cultural ‘norm’ or pressure.

3. Know That It’s OK To Make The Tough Decisions: It’s ok to choose to prioritize one aspect of your life knowing you’ll have less time for something else. When I first started my coaching practice, for example, I knew that for a (long) while, it would be difficult to fit friends in the way I traditionally had. But I was crystal clear on my answers to #s 1 and 2 above, so with that unwavering resolve, I was able to make the tough decision to socialize and see people less.

4. This is not an overnight transformation: This ish takes work! Sometimes the path might not be easy and regular check-ins with yourself, especially revisiting #1 above, are highly recommended to make sure you’re still on the right path for you. Feelings and thoughts change, so it’s ok if you choose to change your path right along with them.

In both my examples above- the long-term relationship and career change- I am still on the journey. We hear about “overnight successes” in our daily vernacular and culture, and I’m here to tell you that that is most definitely not the norm. Practice patience, self care and create an understanding with yourself that whatever your goal is will take time- and then start prioritizing away!

 

Spotlight On: Maryam Sadaghiani, Fashion Designer

I loveeeeeee this interview because it really embodies how you CAN actually switch careers to do something completely different than you were before or thought you ever would be doing. Maryam is a friend from college, and we’d kept in touch via Facebook over the years. I noticed (and was wowed) but her- excuse my French- cajones- at leaving her post as a therapist, moving to a new city and making a go of it as a fashion/textile designer. In typical whoa-I-am-wowed fashion, I contacted her and what follows is an excerpt of our convo.
work profile
Photo Provided by Maryam Sadaghiani
1. Briefly describe your past life and what your journey was like to get from “there” to “here”.
My ‘past life’ was working as a therapist in Philadelphia. In February 2012, I had enough hours to sit for my license, but I had a gut feeling that this wasn’t the right path for me career wise, and I wanted to move back to New York to be closer to my family. An older (and wiser) co-worker actually suggested pursuing fabric/print design and hearing her suggestion was like a light bulb when off in my head; that was what I wanted to do.
I then started making a plan on how I’d make my dream a reality. Long story short, I left Philadelphia at the end of May 2012 and moved in with my parents, started taking summer classes at FIT, interned for a few really great designers/companies in the Fall/Winter, and started freelancing last Spring. I started with my current company last July as a freelance textile design assistant and I was just recently promoted to a full-time assistant designer.
2. Describe a time in your career where what you were asked to do/expected to do was not in line with your values. How did you handle it?
When I first started working in design, I thought that sometimes the team I worked with breezed through work too quickly and it gave me the impression that they weren’t giving it 100% effort (my value- always give it 100%). After a short time, I re-evaluated my value to see if it accurately applied to the scenario (and it didn’t). I realized that to be successful in my job, I needed to adapt/compromise and make the best use of the time I was given and I couldn’t put too much effort into one thing. We are given quite ambitious timelines in design, so even though I could easily spend all day working on one project, I actually need to get five done in that same time span. To quote one of my favorite TV personalities, Tim Gunn, sometimes you just gotta “Make it work!”

3.  What is an instance- career or personal- that you would handle differently today?

I really do believe the cliche saying that “everything happens for a reason” so it’s hard for me to think of an answer. If I had to provide an answer, I guess I’d say I would’ve taken more time to let my loved ones who have passed away in the past few years know how much I loved them.
 4. Tell us about a person who has had a profound impact on your life and what that impact has been. (you can use specific names, but do not have to)
I’ve been really blessed to have a lot of people in my life who always supported my dreams, but I think the two that stand out the most are my mother and father. I’m really close with my family, so it definitely did matter to me what they thought of my idea to pack up and move everything. I still remember how nervous I was when I made that phone call home to tell my parents of what I wanted to do for I really wasn’t sure on how they’d react. Ever the practical parents, they were totally supportive of my dream, pending that journey somehow had health insurance coverage! (it did). I think initially they weren’t 100% sold on my own commitment to my dream, but after seeing me commute two hours each way to take summer classes at FIT three days/week, I think they understood how determined I was and for that I will forever be grateful. I feel having the love and support of others around you is so important when you’re going through something that leaves you somewhat vulnerable.
5.  What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching from it or are told that ‘it’s going to be difficult.”?
I forget where I came across this quote, but a favorite of mine is, “Nothing worth having is easy”. I would say if you have a dream, start making a plan towards it. I took four months to plan my move before I actually acted on it. Even if you don’t know what to do, there is someone out there who does, so you just need work on finding that person.  Everyone’s different, but for me the fear of regret troubled me more than the fear of failing.

6.  What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

 I actually have two….neither of which I remember where the advice came from, but definitely helped me along my journey.
1. If you have a dream, let everyone know about it. How did I know to come up with the plan to start taking classes at FIT? My best friend up in Long Island was a dental hygienist and one of her patients was a former chairperson of the print design program at FIT- she literally picked his brain for me while cleaning his teeth!
2. No one is going to hand you a job. I kept telling myself this along the early stages of my journey. After taking classes at FIT, a friend had recommended getting an internship. Since I wasn’t a matriculated student at FIT, I didn’t fit the criteria for them to help me find an internship so I had to do it on my own. I got my first internship with my favorite designer (Mara Hoffman) by initially cold calling the company. Having that on my resume opened up doors to interning/working at great companies such as Alice + Olivia and J.Crew.

 

7.   What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?  
Try not to dwell on the negative because it can weigh you down so much. Also, I’m a firm believer that all is right in the world when you sleep enough, drink enough water and take your vitamins :-)

 

 8. Talk about a time in your life where you felt stuck and what you did to stop feeling that way. 
I think shortly before I decided on my master plan to switch careers and move, I was feeling ‘stuck’ in Philadelphia because nothing was really changing in my life; my friends around me were achieving the milestones that occur as we age (marriage, babies, promotions) and none of that was happening for me at the time. Granted I didn’t necessarily view this as a negative, but I definitely felt stuck. I guess the best way to summarize how I got unstuck was that I challenged myself more and opened myself up to trying new things that I never though were previously possible.
9. What is the singlemost issue facing women in our culture today?
 I think one major issue is whether a woman can “have it all”. I see that as trying to see if a woman can have both a thriving career, but also a thriving personal life (love, marriage, children, etc). I honestly am still thinking about it, so I don’t have my own belief on the issue yet.

Six Traits of the Best Coaching Relationships-

I came across Les McKeown’s article from earlier this year on inc.com where he discusses the six traits of a successful mentor-mentee relationship. It really resonated with me, especially as I consider my mentor and coaching relationships. Here’s my take on what he says:

1. Go Outside Your Industry. He says that unless you’re building skills for a specific career or improving your legal drafting skills, for example, you should consider going outside your industry for a mentor and/or coach. The whole reason you’re looking for this kind of relationship is to get outside of shared thought patterns and legacy thinking in your industry. As McKeown says, “You want someone who will challenge all aspects of your leadership thinking–including those shaped by so-called industry norms.”

2. Commit for Six to Twelve Months: I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been working with my coach for a little while now and I know the progress is only just beginning. McKeown also makes another salient point: “…be prepared to stick with it through the inevitable dip in months two and three, when the initial excitement of a new relationship has worn off and the results you’re looking for are only beginning to appear.”

3. Be Honest. Seems like a simple directive, but I can see why he made it one of his six points. Take the time to write out why you’re engaging with a coach, and share that with the coach. The more specific you are about your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.

4. Drive the Agenda in an Open and Honest Manner. We coaches say this all the time- the only agenda we have is yours. We simply provide the blank canvas on which you can paint and repaint.  We’re your guide, and in order to do this well, we need your help. So come prepared to discuss the progress made since last time and what you want to focus on this time. This will ensure you get the most of your time with your mentor or coach.

5. Insist on Accountability. This is another of the main benefits coaches provide- someone to be accountable to. How many other people in your life do you have doing this for you? And how many of those people are unbiased parties with your agenda in mind? This is why the accountability piece with your mentor or coach is so important. I agree with McKeown: Agree with your coach to hold you strictly accountable for commitments and build an accountability discussion into every meeting.

6. Measure Success by Behavioral Change. Number of sessions, number of hours worked on your goals, etc are all relatively useful metrics. However, the Big Kahuna is Measurable Change. Go back to what you wrote down in Step 3 and measure what you’ve done against that. There are other things you can do to measure behavior change: a 360 with peers if you’re engaged in leadership coaching or an assessment with your coach are two options.

If you’re on the hunt for a coach or want to reengage your mentor, I urge you to bookmark this page so that when you’re evaluating various coaching options or when you are in a coaching relationship you can use this and Les’s original column on inc.com as a guide.

Have questions or comments on how to get the most out of your coaching relationship? Leave one below and I’ll be certain to answer!

 

Live NYC Workshop Announced!

Friends, Colleagues, Clients & Casual Visitors:

I couldn’t be more pleased to announce my first live personal development workshop, right in the heart of NYC. You can read about the workshop here, so I wanted to use this space to share my inspiration for why Joan and I are doing this.

We ran some focus groups (impromptu over some wine, some questionnaires, water cooler talk, random people on the street- we really ran the gamut of types of groups!) and determined that through talking to these smart, driven, amazing women, there was a really strong commonality.

Everyone was going a little nuts with the ‘have tos’ from Facebook/social media, people in her life &/or mass media images around her. 

So we thought, how can we create something that shows participants some real stats/research that really showcases this very real phenomenon? And how can we provide them with tools and perspectives through which they can break through these negative thought patterns and reach what they really wanna reach for?

Yea, Jill, but what does that mean? 

Ok, Ok, I got a little philosophical there. Really what I mean is this:

  • Engagements & Baby Announcements & Amazing Trips &&& et al on Facebook: Maybe it’s something you want,   maybe it’s something you don’t want, but either way it stresses you out to see it all over the joint. “Is everyone doing that and I’m not?” you may ask. “Am I ‘behind’?”
  • Career Ambitions: Your friends/colleagues/people in your network are aiming higher and higher and you’re stressin’ because you feel like you should be too but for some reason aren’t. What’s up with that?
  • Material Thangs: You passed that girl with a giant iconic brown Bloomingdales bag on the street, but your bank account will magically empty if you step over the threshold.  But do you really want to? Or is something else happening there? What’s stressing you about these thought patterns?

I could go on. There are myriad examples of messages we’re bombarded with in daily life, but what we’re NOT talking about is this: we’re not really talking about the other side of the equation- what that does to our inner balance, how that affects our values system and what we can do to ensure we’re living a fulfilled life and going after what WE want, not what someone else (or something else- like the Facebook triggers) tells us we should want.

Anyway, here’s the link again. And if you’re sold and need to register now (I know there are some of you out there!) here’s the direct link to register.

See ya’ll on January 15 at 7pm-9pm for a scrumptious good time.workshop 2